The truth about free Usenet
After you have spent some time trying the various free servers on my newsgroup search site, it should be apparent that it is no longer possible to download from the alt.binaries newsgroups for free. Many of us thought we had it all nailed down 20 years ago and were set; now we are going to the commercial Newsgroup providers because our university or corporate provider have stopped giving us access for free, due to increased cost and in some cases, legal concerns.
If you are lucky, your ISP may provide you with access to some of the Usenet Newsgroups, but this is often limited to text groups, and depending on the subject matter are often censored as well. Many ISPs that provide you with free Usenet accounts actually purchase service from one of the Tier-1 providers in bulk, often blocking binary newsgroups to keep the cost of their blocks of data from getting too expensive.
Because of these issues, most people are now going directly to Usenet Service providers to get their newsgroup access. These providers specialize in Usenet and have the man-power and expertise to operate highly efficient/redundant newsgroup servers to guarantee long retention times, high-speed downloads and good completion rates. Plus, unlike many ISPs today, most providers have 24×7 support available if you have problems configuring your software or connecting to their servers.
If you are interested in trying some of these providers, you might consider checking out some of the ones listed in the column to the left or in my free usenet trials page. All these provider give users a free usenet trial, with varying numbers of days and/or gigabytes allowed. If you try one and it does not perform as well as you would like, you can cancel before you exceed the free trial restrictions and not pay anything, and try another provider instead.
Recently it has come to my attention that there may be an exception to the above information. A provider called XSUsent has recently gone online in the Netherlands. They sell an unlimited speed/size account for as little as €2.99/month. However, they also give a free account that allows access to all the newsgroups, with just a couple of restriction:
- download speed limited to 1Mbit/sec
- only 2 simultaneous connections
- only allowed 25GB download per month
If you can live with these restrictions, it sounds like a great deal, or at least a good backup for when you are having issues with your main Usenet provider. To give you an idea, at 1Mbit/s you could only download binaries for about 3 days a month, and a 500MB video would take about an hour and a half to download, and a 4GB ISO would take about a half day to download. Compare this to a premium provider, such as Giganews Usenet, you can download at full speed for the entire month and the 500MB file will only take about a minute to download and the 4GB file takes about 8 minutes. As you can easily see, you get what you pay for, but free is still good if that is all you can afford.